February is the tail end of Sicily's short winter, offering snowy adventures on the island's highest peaks, blossoming almond trees in the south, and massive festivals—as well as fewer tourists and lower prices. A predominantly Catholic region, Sicily gets into festive spirits around Lent and Carnivale, kicking off the coming of spring with Mardi Gras celebrations across the country. Find out what to do and where to go with this February guide.

Weather

February sees little difference compared to January in Sicily, with averaging temperatures ranging between 42-54°F (5-12°C) across the island and 48-59°F (9-15°C) in Palermo, though the seasonal rains continue to lessen. The climate along the coasts will be warmer than inland, seeing a little more rain too, while the hilly interior sees colder weather, like in Prizzi, with an average range of 36-46°F (2-8°C). Higher altitudes (think Mount Etna) will be colder yet with its snow-laden sides inviting the skiing crowds to its resorts.

And if the winds from the Balkan Peninsula are present, temperatures along the coast can temporarily drop to freezing. With that said, however, it’s not entirely unheard of to head to the beach to relax under the temperamental sun. You’ll just want to avoid the water (59°F/15°C).

Crowds & Costs

Still considered offseason, February is a great time to visit Sicily. There are next to no crowds, granting you an all-access pass to seaside views unhindered by tourists and selfie sticks. Expect rock-bottom prices on accommodation, car rentals, and airfare. It's important to note, though, that many hotels, restaurants, and attractions are closed in resorts and smaller towns that depend on tourists, like Erice and San Vito Lo Capo. Meanwhile, ferries operate on a reduced schedule.

Skiing is popular in February with locals heading to the slopes of the Madonie mountains and Mount Etna. That said, their runs are uncrowded, and passes are inexpensive, especially in comparison to other popular ski destinations in Italy. Similar to other southern European countries, Sicilians practice the art of siesta year-round: businesses are likely to be closed between 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm, daily.

If you’re coming to the island during Carnival and St. Agatha’s Feast Day in Catania, it’s worth booking accommodation and reservations ahead of time.

Where to Go

If you happen to be in Sicily during Italy’s version of Carnivale, you’ll find plenty of celebrations all over the island with many lasting for days on end. You’ll want to venture to Acireale, a town north of Catania between Mount Etna and the sea, for one of the country’s most famous pre-Lent celebrations. Expect to see massive allegorical floats, costumed participants, and giant papier-mâché caricatures of famous people. Other options that put on a good show are the sophisticated resort town of Taormina on the Ionian Sea and Sciacca, the historic fishing port in the northwest—its origins date back to the days of the Roman Empire.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the month, Catania celebrates one of the world’s largest festivals, the Festa di Sant’Agata (Feast of St. Agatha). With crowds up to 1,000,000 devotees flocking to the city to pay their respects and participate in the festivities honoring the martyred woman (processions, choirs, food, and fireworks).

Sicily might not be known for skiing like its northern Italian counterparts, but the region does boast three resorts offering runs of varying degrees of difficulty with ideal conditions: mild weather, few crowds, inexpensive passes. Take advantage of the novelty of skiing on an active volcano and head to one of two resorts on Mount Etna, Nicolosi on the southern side and Linguaglossa on the northern. And if the conditions aren’t favorable (lack of snow or volcanic activity), get yourself to the south coast for the Agrigento Almond Blossom Festival and a possible lie out on the beach.

What to Do

February is a great off-season month to be flexible and experience local life. With few competing tourists, take advantage of the available house rentals or agriturismo listings and spend a few days on a farm and enjoy living like a local (renting a car is your best option for this experience).

You might find better service in hotels and restaurants, too, so make friends with your waiter and dine unhurried savoring local and seasonal fare, like sea urchins and freshly baked pasta reale (almond marzipan pastries in honor of the blossoming almond trees).

And while the weather still holds a chill keeping the foreign visitors at bay, explore Sicily’s vast wealth of archaeological and historical sites and medieval and baroque city centers. Visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the 5th century BCE Greek theater in Syracuse’s Neapolis Archaeological Park, and wander the narrow and winding streets of Ragusa Ibla, Modica, and Scicli for their excellent examples of the Sicilian Baroque style of architecture.

Fans of the arts might like to know opera season kicks off this month with a handful of premium theaters hosting important works. Teatro Massimo in Palermo is such a theater to consider (and Italy’s largest). And if you find yourself in the regional capital, travel down the western coast to the salt flats of Trapani to walk amid the dazzling checkerboard of saltwater basins, particularly stunning during sunset.

Events

Carnevale. Held annually 40 days before Easter on the liturgical calendar, Italy’s Carnival celebrations occur sometime between January and April but often fall in February. This is the biggest event of the month by far, with celebrations in cities and towns throughout the country.

St. Agatha’s Feast Day. Beginning on February 4 in Catania, locals spend a week celebrating Saint Agatha, a martyr who died in the 3rd century. A procession follows a silver carriage housing her relics up Monte Sangiuliano, and there is quite a bit of merrymaking and fireworks. The event is regarded as one of the largest religious processions in the world.

Almond Blossom Festival. Agrigento holds this weeklong festival from the first Sunday through the second Sunday of the month. Traditional Sicilian sweets made with almonds are served, and the event is held in tandem with an international folklore festival, so there's a lot of live music, parades of people in historical costumes, shows, craft exhibits, and fireworks.

Traveling to Sicily in February? Check out these great itineraries.

7 Days in Sicily: Mount Etna, the Ionian Coast, and Cefalú. Travelers who don't mind a bit of rain will have the highlights of Sicily all to themselves in February: Europe's largest volcano, ancient archeological sites, shimmering turquoise waters, and easy to navigate resort towns alike. 

Southeast Sicily in 7 Days: Syracuse and the Valley of the Temples. The southeastern coast of Sicily will be a bit warmer than inland regions in February. This itinerary features impressive archaeological sites, including the Neapolis Archaeological Park in Syracuse and the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. It's an incredibly scenic drive, with golden beaches and vineyards, plus overnight stays in ancient, seaside towns.

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